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A two-dimensional analysis is presented for the near-field diffraction of a plane wave incident upon a slit in a thick perfectly conducting screen flying above a magneto-optical disk. The angle and polarization of the incident wave are arbitrary. The screen thickness, slit width, and fly height are all on the order of a wavelength or less. The disk is treated as a thin-film multilayer stack on a semi-infinite substrate. Any combination of the thin-film layers can be magneto-optically active. Thus, polarization is not necessarily preserved. The fields and their polarizations within and around the slit are determined by rigorously solving Maxwell’s equations with the appropriate boundary conditions imposed by both the slit and the disk. The solution, which involves Fourier transforms and mode expansions, is based upon a method developed previously by other researchers to investigate scattering systems composed of slits in thick conductors only. In this article, their method is extended to include systems that also have thin-film multilayer media which can change polarization. The extended theory, numerical issues, and example calculations are presented and discussed. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.